My daughter is teaching herself to knit.
Her college friends mock her: It's a rocking-chair hobby, they tell her. An old-lady hobby. Still, she persists.
She frowns over her work, each hand tightly clutching a gold needle, a multi-colored scarf slowly taking shape between them. I watch her take up the yarn and incorporate it into the scarf. I listen to the clacking of the needles in the perfect stillness of the house. Listening, I am reminded of my mother and my grandmother and the work that has come from their needles: scarfs and hats; dishcloths and blankets and the long-outgrown sweaters that I keep in my trunk for my children's children.
My daughter sighs. The clacking stops. She holds up the scarf revealing another dropped stitch. “I hate knitting.” The comfortable quiet is replaced with frustration. “Should I tear it all out?”
“No,” I tell her. “Just keep going.”
“Then the problem will just continue,” she says, taking up her needles again.
Perhaps. But dropped stitches can be corrected. And, as she makes the same mistake over and over again, she will see what is happening and learn how to correct it.
Knitting is a reflection of our lives, lives created with our own hands; lives created with intention and purpose. You cannot tear out the mistakes of your life, pulling apart the intricate threads to correct a misstep. You can only move on, looking at the gap between stitches and knowing that this was a place of learning and growth.
As my daughter knits, she will learn to pick up dropped stitches. She will increase in speed and confidence. She will try new patterns and combine new and interesting yarns, weaving her life experiences into her work.
Knitting allows her to create something useful and valuable, and, yes, even with the dropped stitches, a thing of beauty. Knitting teaches her to produce something of value on her own.
And if that's an old-lady hobby, well then, pass me my rocker.